How to Find Cheap Hotels

Four Methods:Knowing Your Search ToolsJoining Loyalty ProgramsPackaging Your AccommodationAsking for DiscountsCommunity Q&A

Hotels regularly sell their under booked rooms for less than their standard price. The Internet is flush with hotel discount websites, so it can be difficult to know which service is listing the lowest price. Although the Internet is still the best place to look for big deals on hotel rooms, you can use all these tools to get the biggest discount.


Method 1

Knowing Your Search Tools

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    Expect that most travel aggregate sites search for hotel deals. That does not mean, however, that all the sites will show the same information. Plan to look at three or more sites before you book.

    • The hotels listed depends upon what hotels choose to list their under booked rooms and which sites have already sold out of their vacant rooms.

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    Try This site claims to find 25 percent or more off a hotel stay. The advantage of Kayak is that it is well known by hotel chains and it allows you to compare a flights, cars and vacations in addition to hotels.
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    Visit if you want to find a risk-free reservation. Unlike most hotel chains that make you reserve with your credit card and pay a fee if you cancel, allows you to search for listings and review them based on free cancellation.

    • You may want to book a hotel on this site, keep your confirmation nearby and cancel if you find a better deal.
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    Search at or for last minute hotel deals. If you have a vacation coming up soon and you have yet to book your hotel, these sites perform well.
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    Go to Trivago to search for cheap hotels using a search engine that includes hotel discount websites, like, Expedia, Booking, Priceline and Travelocity. It may not list all the hotels that are available, but it will compare sites to find you the best price for popular hotels.[1]

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    Try Hotwire for even bigger discounts. The disadvantage of Hotwire is that you pick by location and find out where you will stay after you book. Hotwire doesn’t offer easy cancellation and you are taking a bigger risk than with other sites.

Method 2

Joining Loyalty Programs

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    Call your favorite hotel chain to see if they have a loyalty program. Fairmont, Hilton, Hyatt, Joie de Vivre, Kimpton, Marriott, Starwood and many more hotel chains give their loyal customers perks. Call and quiz the membership customer service line to see what they offer.

    • Ask the hotel loyalty program if they offer free Internet. Fancier hotels have stopped providing free Internet to clients. Starwood gives you free Internet upon enrollment.
    • Most loyalty programs work on a points system. Once you earn a certain amount of points, you get a free stay. They are best for frequent travelers.
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    Peruse the list of hotel loyalty programs on TravelZoo. Go to to review options before you call.
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    Sign up for your loyalty program e-newsletter. They will email you about room sales and you can book by clicking on the email and booking online. Make sure to compare these sale emails to or another aggregate site to ensure you are being offered the best deal.
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    Sign up for an AARP, AAA, or professional association membership. Many of these associations have partnerships with certain hotels. You can expect a 10 to 25 percent discount on certain hotel chains.[2]

Method 3

Packaging Your Accommodation

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    Use your airline to book your hotel. You may get a good deal on hotels, hotel transfers, car rentals and more by booking what airlines call a “vacation.”
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    Search Expedia, Kayak, Travelocity and other sites for package deals. Travel agents may be offering special deals on flights and hotels to fill their last few empty spots.
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    Click on the section entitled “last minute deals” on each website. You may be able to score a deal by booking an entire vacation (flight and hotel) just a week or two before you plan to travel. You must be extremely flexible.

Method 4

Asking for Discounts

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    Call a hotel or go into a location and haggle for cheaper accommodation. Tell the hotel what price you are looking for. Suggest that you want to check if they want to offer a deal before you try places down the road.[3]

    • Unless there is a strict no-discounts policy, most hotel managers will be flexible and give you the rate available on or another site.
    • If they won’t offer you a discount, ask if they will give you free services like a breakfast or Internet.
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    Ask for an industry discount. Say that you are a representative of your company looking to book a group of rooms at a hotel in the area. They may call you out or they may give you an industry rate of 10 to 15 percent off or more.

    • You should also ask for an educator discount, military discount or a non-profit discount if you are associated with a school, charity or branch of military service.[4]
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    Search Coupon websites if you want to stay at a certain hotel. Search according to the hotel name at Retail Me Not, or Coupon Heaven. If they don’t have a discount code, they may have coupons for free Internet or services.
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    Travel in the off-season to find cheaper rates. Europe in the fall or winter and South America or the Caribbean in the summer will have far lower rates than in the high season.
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    Book after 6 pm on the same day of travel. If you are up for adventure and a little risk, wait for hotels with unbooked rooms to offer discounts. Remember that you must ask or they will charge you the standard rate.

    • Leave your luggage in the car when you ask for discounts or haggle. You send the message that you are going to stay at the hotel if you bring your suitcase with you.[5]

Using Social Media To Promote Your Website and Grow Your Business

Using social media to promote your website or blog is a great idea—but there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. The wrong way tries to turn your entire social media audience into website readers. The right way grows your social media audience separately but regularly gets interested followers and fans to visit your site. You must get the social media promotion spot on if you want to use social to grow your business.

Using Social Media Like A Tool

Too many site owners start using social media as just another tool to promote their website. You know the type—all they do is announce fresh posts. They don’t try to build a following; they don’t interact with their fans; they just tell you what they want you to know. (I am even guilty of this)

This is the wrong approach for social media. People who want to read your latest post can already subscribe to your feed. They don’t need to hear about your every update using social media.

How You Should Be Using Social Media

There are some crazy myths about social media, but the most obvious rule for successfully using social media is to be social and that is not always simple when you are building a business. Talk to your followers and fans—don’t just broadcast to them. Don’t obsess over your site, but don’t forget to point people to it when you have content relevant to the current conversation.

If you post on your website frequently, don’t mention every fresh post in social media. Instead, only promote your very best posts. If you can’t tell the difference between your good posts and mediocre posts—wait a few hours after posting to read the comments before you promote posts on social media.

The best thing you can do on social media is train people to click your links. How do you train people? You tempt and reward them.

First you tempt them by telling them about the link you want them to click. Then, when they click the link, you reward them with something they’ll enjoy.

To make this work on social media, link only to the very best content on the Web. Each time someone clicks one of your links and enjoys the content they get, they’ll be more inclined to automatically click the next link you send.

In short, if you only link to great content, people will almost always click your links.

Now do you want to know why social media grows businesses?

There are three reasons: attention, research, and validation. Let’s look at each reason individually.

Why Social Media Attention Grows Businesses

The simplest reason why social media grows your businesses is because it helps customers notice your business. Offline businesses live by the mantra “location, location, location”, but online businesses have no way to automatically put themselves in front of customers.

A social media campaign will get your brand out in front of customers. They’ll see you tweeting or posting stories to your Facebook page. They’ll get to interact with you and start to think about you and your products or services.

Any advertising will do that, but social media can help you grow faster because social media done right is cheaper than traditional advertising and it can enter your customers conversation at the perfect moment to get them to act. That does not mean you should spend all your promotion time on sites like Twitter and Facebook as you must also consider your social media ROI (return on investment).

Using Social Media To Promote Your Website and Grow Your Business image 167315 491190997091 539651 n
Using Social Media To Promote Your Website and Grow Your Business

Why Social Media Research Grows Businesses

All the conversations which occur now on social media used to occur offline. They’re the same conversations but with one important difference—now you can listen in on them. If you’re a small business without a budget for market research, listening in on social media conversations is your best research tool.

Whenever someone mentions your brand on social media, you can see what they’re saying, whether it be good or bad. The same is true when they mention your competitors or markets you want to enter.

You can collect all of the information you need to build better products and create a great customer experience on social media—and you don’t have to pay a dime to do it. That’s why social media is a critical part of the 21st century business.

Why Social Media Validation Grows Businesses

Trying to convince somebody who’s never heard about your business to buy your products or services is hard. But nothing could be easier than selling something to someone who just heard their friend rave about how great you are.

Social media makes it easy for people to recommend brands they like to their friends and for you to jump in on the conversation at the exact moment when they’re most ready to buy.

Even more important, social media lets you demonstrate your customer service in public. If someone is disappointed with you, social media lets you “turn their frown upside down” in front of all of their friends. Satisfying a grievance in public is a great way to demonstatably guarantee your products. See how to handle negative comments about you and your business.

Best of all, the validation you receive on social media can go viral. If you get a testimonial from the friend of a famous person and the famous person retweets that testimonial, you can go from an obscure small business to making thousands of sales in a day. You shouldn’t count on this sort of big break, but you certainly have a greater chance of it happening on social media than through offline advertising.

But even without a big break, there’s no reason why social media should be ignored by any small business.


Separate your social media audience from your blog or business website. Use the social aspects to grow that audience and make them like you. Then every once in a while link to something great on your blog. The people in your social media audience who like you will take those opportunities to become blog subscribers so your grow your business using social media

Management Tips for the Digital Age

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When you study technology over a long enough time horizon, you notice an interesting trend: Even though each new development is in itself time-saving, people tend to be busier and busier, from one generation to the next.

That’s been an interesting byproduct of the digital age. On the surface, having information available at our fingertips on a continual basis should make everything easier, faster, and more efficient. And mostly, it does. However, we are also expected to do and be more – as people – than at any other point in history. That’s true personally and professionally, where individuals now handle jobs that were once split up among multiple professionals (or even firms), and the wide range of leisure and recreation time allows us to fill evenings and weekends with activities.

It would seem that more time is making us more productive… but also accentuating the need for better time management and decision-making

With that in mind, I would like to offer seven simple but Prepaid Hosting effective time-management tips you can use to get more from every minute you spend online:

1. Remember what’s important.

This is an old piece of time-management advice, but one that still holds a lot of weight in today’s world. If you don’t know what your most important goals and priorities are, then it’s hard to know how to spend your time efficiently. This matters more than you might think, especially when it’s so easy to spend time on social media sites, read industry news, or just kill an hour playing your favourite Facebook game. If it truly isn’t important, or if it doesn’t allow you to take a break from the pressures of real life, make time for something else that is.

2. Get more organized.

This is also classic advice, but something that takes on an entirely new meaning Label Hair when you’re surrounded by laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Spending time looking at the same document or email again and again is a waste; devise a filing and bookmark system that is consistent throughout all your devices so that you’ll always be able to reach and access details exactly when you need them.

3. Take a trip to OHIO.

If you don’t know already, OHIO stands for “Only Handle It Once.” Everything that comes into your inbox should be tasked, tossed, transferred to someone else, or tended to as needed. That means nothing should ever be put off to be dealt with at some unspecified time in the future – that’s how regret, procrastination,Business and missed opportunities creep into our lives. (Hat tip to Karen Turner for teaching me that a few years ago.)

4. Learn to scan info.

You don’t have to be a speed-reader to understand that it’s important to scan some long documents and pay closer line-by-line attention to others. The fact is that most of us get more information and detail than we could realistically deal with on any given day. Get good at scanning items, making notes of Boat a few important points, and then moving on. You’ll save tons of time and avoid a lot of stress in the long run.

5. Focus your energy where it mattersTechnologies

I mentioned earlier that you have to know what’s important to you. Some priorities will be given to you by an employer (or even by customers). Others you’ll determine for yourself. Either way, spend your time online working toward the goals and priorities that actually matter. Otherwise, you’ll easily find yourself clicking from one thing to the next simply for fun. There’s nothing wrong with that in very small doses, but it isn’t a great way to enhance your life or career

6. Remember that educational time isn’t wasted.

Here is one thing a lot of busy professionals tend to overlook: When you spend time learning to use an app, or develop a new skill, you may be taking a little bit from your schedule now, but you are also giving yourself many more minutes back later. In other words, that little extra time it takes to get something right in the short term is well worth it, when you figure what will be saved or gained in the long run.

7. Don’t always be online

Unless you are crucial to the security of the free worldAtlas RTV (in which case I sorely hope you’re doing something more important than reading this article), you don’t need to be accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In fact, always being online numbs you to all of the information you could otherwise be absorbing. So, learn to step away and take some time off; it might feel like a guilty pleasure, but you’ll be doing the right thing for yourself and your company in the long run.

We all have the same 24 hours to use each day,Who owns your network regardless of whether we spend them online or off. I hope the short bits of advice I’ve given you here can help you make the most of your time on the web… and to enjoy the precious moments you have away from it as well.

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Tips for Managing and Maximizing Content in Social Media

Jay Baer uses this analogy to explain the idea that content is the main substance in any digital marketing campaign; social media channels ignite that content and help it to spread. What this means for marketers is that content must be at the core of your digital marketing. initiatives. Content is what people find when searching on Google. Content is what people share on social media channels. Content is how brands tell their story and connect with customers. And content is what ultimately drives leads and sales.

But you can’t just create a video, post it on Facebook, and expect it to generate tons of awareness, engagement, and sales. You need to put thought and structure behind the content you create and share on social media profiles. Start with these seven tips for managing and maximizing content in social media.

1. Know Your Audience If you don’t know who your audience is, how will you ever connect with them? Most brands have an understanding of their audience’s demographics – age, gender, HHI, ethnicity. But you have to go beyond these statistics to get a better understanding of their interests, needs, mindsets, and behaviors to truly make a connection and become an important part of their lives.

See these concepts in action at ClickZ Live New York 2014:

In addition to the standard methods of audience discovery – industry research, focus groups, and brand surveys – you can also use social media data to build audience personas. Social monitoring software, Facebook Custom Audience, social referrals to your website, and question-and-answer sites are just a few of the sources you can use to learn more about your audience.

2. Provide Value Your content must provide some type of value to your audience. That value could be education, increased productivity, entertainment, or cost savings. To the consumer, it shouldn’t seem like marketing, even though we know it is by nature. It’s providing long-term awareness and brand recall. It’s making sure your brand is right there with the consumer at each step along their path to purchase so that when it comes time to make a decision, you’re the first brand that comes to mind.

Take Charmin’s Sit or Squat app, for example. This Seinfeld-ish app allows you to find which public restrooms in your vicinity are clean (i.e., safe sitters) and which are dirty (i.e., strictly squatters). Any user can add and rate public restrooms, include a review, tag various amenities (e.g., handicap accessible, free), and upload photos.


Charmin isn’t selling anything with Sit or Squat. Not one roll of toilet paper can be purchased through the app, and they do not try to push any sales Email messaging. The purpose of the app is that when a consumer is standing in front of the wall of toilet paper at Target, desperately trying to figure out if they need grandma-quilted, ocean-breeze-scented, quadruple-ply, or pillow-top TP, they’ll reach for the Charmin because they remember that Charmin helped them find a clean bathroom on their last vacation.

3. Expand Your Conversation Brands, especially B2B brands, have a tendency to be egocentric. They talk only about themselves ad nauseam – their products, services, features, benefits, staff, culture, financials, and on and on. Customers don’t want to hear about this. They’re egocentric, too, and want to know what else your brand can do for them.

To broaden the conversation and take the spotlight off your brand, you should create content pillars. Content pillars provide a creative filter and platform that is rooted in customer needs, brand voice and personality, and business objectives. These pillars represent a starting point that allows you to live within your brand’s core environment – your products/services – while also stretching into adjacent, relevant, and credible aspects of your customers’ lives. An example would be Whole Foods talking about fighting poverty in the United States, or General Electric providing fascinating content with their #6SecondScience campaign. Or even Method’s fun and engaging #DirtyLittleSecrets campaign. These topics are not directly about their core products, but they are compelling to the brands’ core audiences.

method-clickz-march3 Method’s #DirtyLittleSecrets campaign sticks to their core mission of designing green cleaning products, but has broad appeal for inspiring user-generated content.

4. Look Beyond Facebook and Twitter Creating content doesn’t automatically mean users will come consume it and engage with your brand as a result. You must draw attention to the content through owned, earned, and paid methods across a variety of channels, not just the big ones.

Ask yourself how else you can maximize the value of each piece of content and each campaign: Can you make the content more visible and sharable on your website? What other social channels does your audience use besides Facebook and Twitter? Can you use sites that accept submissions of specific content, like for infographics or for contests? How much are you able to pay to distribute your content on sites such as Outbrain or Taboola? Are you using Google+ to link to content on your website? (If the answer is no, I urge you to start today. Google+, while lacking in the engagement department, has a major impact on organic ranking.)

5. Know Your Dimensions People share things not only because those things look good, but because those things make them look good. If your content is cropped inappropriately or appears blurry and pixelated, it’s probably not going to get shared by users on social media channels. Be aware of how your content will display on different social networks and devices by understanding the various dimension of each channel, and how your audience most often finds that content.

6. Don’t Ignore the SEO Impact It’s no longer accurate to talk about the “intersection of social and SEO.” These two services don’t just intersect; they coalesce into a united effort to increase findability across all digital platforms. Therefore, separating these efforts into siloes and different departments will not only hurt you today, but certainly in the future.

Google’s Matt Cutts has indicated that social signals – Facebook Likes, retweets, pins, LinkedIn shares – don’t directly impact the ranking of content, but they do help to increase traffic and generate links, which are key factors in ranking. Cutts has also stated that they are Ipad Tableton weighting the ranking of identities, meaning that a thought leader in a particular vertical would receive higher ranking for queries on that subject.

What Google has not openly addressed is how much weight they are giving to Google+ pages and posts. But they are – a lot. Enough so, that I had to mention it again in this article. The key takeaways for Google+: Create a Google+ page. Add publisher markup to your website. Actively post links back to your site content (at least once every 72 hours). And increase your circle count.

7. Measure Success Before creating a single piece of content or posting one Facebook message, determine the objective of your content and what metrics you will use to measure performance.

Start by identifying the important –
Economy –metrics within five buckets: awareness, consumption, engagement, actions, and SEO impact. While the specific metrics in each bucket will vary based on your strategy, objectives, and resources, some common ones are:

  • Awareness -impressions, reach, mentions
  • Consumption – - clicks,visits, referrals
  • Engagement – likes, shares, +1s, time on site
  • Actions – leads/sales, PDF downloads, newsletter sign-ups, site navigation
  • SEO Impact – increased organic site traffic and activity, increased organic backlinks,
    Ignite Your Site increased engagement on specific content pieces

By learning who your audience is and how you can provide value to them, identifying additional distribution channels, integrating SEO and creating a solid plan for measurement, you can ensure your content has enough fuel Web SEO to inflame across social media and other digital Flight Guide channels.


When talking about social media marketing I’m often asked “how much time does this take,” or “how do you find the time to do all this twittering,” or “is your mom ever disappointed that you never put your college education to work?”

Social Media Doesn’t Have to be a Time Suck

Yes, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites can bring your productivity to a screeching halt, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re avoiding these sites to avoid temptation, you’re missing out on important conversations and networking opportunities that can help grow your business.

The risk of missed opportunities outweighs the risk of lost time, especially since you control the clock. Here are three steps to better manage your time on social media activities.

Step 1: Determine Why You Use Social Media

Not surprisingly, people use social media for different business purposes depending on their industry, company and job title. Are you using social media for research, networking, sales & marketing, or some combination?

If research is your goal you’ll want to find blogs, podcasts and news sites that provide quality information and subscribe to their RSS feeds. What is RSS, you ask? Watch this video to find out.

If networking is your focus you’ll want to build a community and/or an audience. You’ll want to be active on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as building a following on Twitter.

If you’re driven by sales & marketing, you’ll want to concentrate on getting your brand and products out there, perhaps by creating videos, blogging, and engaging customers on social networking sites.

Step 2: Develop a Strategy to Manage Your Time Wisely

Once you have determined your purpose for using social media for business, you can develop a strategy that supports that purpose. Here are a few ideas that will help you tame social media:
◾Create a schedule. Block out time to tweet, use social networking sites, blog or create YouTube videos. Conversely, when it’s time to write proposals or meet clients, shut down these sites and concentrate on the rest of your business.
◾Focus your activities where they’ll have the most impact. First, go where your customers go. I favor Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, but perhaps your customers are on MySpace or a small, vertical networking site that focuses on your industry. Secondly, although everyone wants a lot of connections, quality trumps quantity. Too many connections can be a distraction; don’t feel you have to friend, follow back or become linked in with everyone.
◾Keep to your purpose. Most of what goes on within the social media sphere is just that, “social.” It’s hard not to get sucked in to a “must see” YouTube video, a link that a friend posted on Facebook or seeing what’s hot on Digg. RESIST THE URGE! Follow up with friends after work and bookmark NSFW links for after the kids go to bed.

Step 3: Use Tools to Maximize Your Productivity

Scientists often say our ability to use tools separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Personally, I think it’s our well-developed sense of sarcasm and keen fashion sense. Regardless, you can use tools to better manage the time you spend on social media activities. Here are a few of my favorites:
◾ Many social media sites allow you to update your status, but answering “what are you doing?” across multiple sites gets old fast. allows you to update your status across dozens of sites through a simple interface.
◾ Video has become an essential part of any business’s marketing plans. Don’t just stop at YouTube, though. TubeMogul is like for video: it uploads your video to multiple sites and then provides you viewing statistics from each site.
◾RSS: Use RSS to track your favorite blogs, podcasts, gurus, and search terms on social media sites and have them delivered to Google Reader, Bloglines, or the newsreader of your choice.
◾FriendFeed: Feeling scattered across multiple Web sites and accounts? Use FriendFeed to collect many online activities–blogs, photos, videos, social networking and more–in just one place so people can follow you. (You can control what gets shared, ‘natch.) Further, you can easily follow experts in your field who have created their own profiles at FriendFeed.

In Conclusion

To manage your time wisely you need to have a good grasp on why you’re using social media, develop a strategy to keep you focused, and utilize a growing number of tools that will help you maximize your effort. However, the best line of defense against social media time suck is you.

Know what you want to get out of social media, know how much time you can put into it, and then make your decisions wisely.

If you’d like help developing a social media strategy for your business contact flyte today.

Top 10 Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

Social media marketing is an important aspect of promoting your small business. In order to set up an effective social media marketing strategy, a basic understanding of the relationship between business and social media is needed.

To help you learn the benefits of using social media for your small business, we’ve created an eBook, “Top 10 Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses.” This eBook provides you with all the necessary tools to build a strong social media marketing presence for your small business. Check out the full eBook below.

Top 10 Social Media Tips for Small Businesses:
1.Use social media to sell your product
2.Join Twitter
3.Increase Twitter followers
4.Build relationships by following back
5.Figure out # of tweets per day
6.Tweet at optimal times
7.Join LinkedIn
8.LinkedIn company pages vs LinkedIn profiles
9.Share engaging content on your Facebook page

Tips for excellent social media management

business MediaThere are a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to a brand’s social media strategy. Here are the basic rules.

Be immediately responsive
If a social media follower has a question or a complaint, the worst thing to do is sit on your hands. We all know social media management is a job, but your fans and followers see it as a conversation. If you’re not responding to your audience, your brand comes off as lazy and uninterested. That’s no way to build a following.

Don’t be defensive if there’s negativity
If a fan is complaining or insulting your brand, it’s tempting to jump in and defend your livelihood. That’s one of the worst mistakes you can make. Obviously, respond to respectful criticism, but take a back seat when there is outright unwarranted negativity. Let’s face it; it’s going to happen. The best solution is to let your fans jump in and defend your brand for you.

Make sure they’re talking about your brand
Evaluate the landscape and observe how often and at what frequency your brand is being discussed. Are you staying relevant? Who’s your competition on social? How are you measuring up with fan communication? Answer these questions and fix your errors. Reviewing the landscape is an ongoing process.

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26 Tips for Managing a Social Media Community

By Debbie Hemley

Do you wonder how to go about exercising good social etiquette and managing your social networking communities, all at the same time?

Social media community management has expanded into a growing field and there’s a lot to think about.

In this post, I’ll cover 26 tips, an A-Z guide, on ways to manage your companys presence.

#1: Answer Questions

With more and more of your customers participating on social networking platforms, businesses need to be doing much more than posting their own updates. Companies must also be willing to answer questions.

A recent survey organized by InSites Consulting found that eight out of ten American companies answer client questions and complaints via social media. The survey shows that US companies are very successful in answering questions via social media: “83 percent of companies indicate they always deal with questions or complaints sent to them via social media. Still, only 54 percent of the companies in this survey also talk to and actively participate in online conversations with consumers.”

What about your business? Are you answering or avoiding questions?

#2: Bring People to Your Website Through Social Media

Sometimes with all the talk about social media, businesses may briefly forget one of their original goals for initiating a social strategy—namely, bringing customers and prospects to your company website.

E P writes, “If you are a small business owner, social media will be greatly beneficial in attracting customers to your website… Very few consumers make a purchase the first time they view a website. The initial visit may be enough to capture their attention, but you also need to gain their trust and convince them that your product is a better buy than that of your competitor.”

Silvia offers two recommendations: 1) keep your customers informed by updating your information regularly and 2) communicate with your customers. “If a consumer posts a comment or question on your page, be sure to answer back as quickly as possible. Not only will this show them that you can provide them with excellent customer service, but speaking to them directly will also help to gain their trust, showing them that there is a person behind the business.”

#3: Cultivate Stories on How Customers Use Your Products and Services

You’ve followed the advice on monitoring your social media activity. You see that a customer tweeted about your product or posted a photo on Pinterest. They like you! They really do! Well, that’s all really exciting. And maybe you’ve even retweeted the message for the world to see. But why stop there? Why not be more of a brand storyteller and share those experiences further?

Vice president of brand marketing at IdeaPaint, says her company not only retweets and reposts blogs and social mentions from customers, staff members also share customers’ photos of their products that they’ve culled from social media sites to use as success stories. “We are much more interested in talking about who our customers are and how they use the product than we are about just talking about ourselves.”

How can you use social mentions to tell your success stories?

idea paint

IdeaPaint’s blog post about how Skiver Advertising was using their product after coming across an article online.

#4: Divide and Conquer

Depending on the type of products and services your business provides, you may actually benefit from maintaining more than one Facebook page or Twitter profile.

“Mars manufactures the candy brands M&Ms, Snickers, Dove and Mars… all of the brands are positioned together on the same corporate website, creating branding that is confusing because the subpages are each dedicated to a single brand. Consequently, the overall message is also confusing because the Mars corporate brand overrides all the others.

“The good news is that M&Ms, Snickers, Dove, and Mars can each have a page on Facebook and Twitter that is completely independent of the others with its own branding as well.

“Web 2.0 has created a marketplace that is highly segmented and marketers are well advised to take this into account. As a result, B2B companies have an opportunity to optimize their online marketing strategies by not only creating a page for the umbrella brand, but also by creating individualized social networking pages for each of the products and services that they offer.”


Companies with diverse products can use social media to segment and target the communication for their brands.

#5: Elicit Responses

We’ve all probably heard it said a zillion times that engagement is key to social media community management. But the question we may find ourselves struggling with day in and day out is: What will be most effective? Conversen sums it up very nicely with this advice: “A social campaign should ask questions that cause consumers to stop, reflect and respond.”

When you look back at the questions you’ve posed in articles, tweets, or Facebook updates, which were the ones that generated not only the most responses in numbers, but also qualitatively, the most reflective and insightful answers? Can you do that again tomorrow? And the day after that?

#6: Fans and Followers, Really?

Someone may have once told you that having more fans and followers should be one of your key goals for managing your online communities. After all, numbers matter, don’t they?

Jay Baer hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “Your customers don’t innately want to follow your company on Twitter or friend you on Facebook, or read your blog, or watch your videos. There are mountains of great content online unencumbered by a corporate dynamic. Thus, embracing your company and its content is not a high priority.”

Jay says it’s about rationale. Companies that can create compelling reasons for their customers to connect with them will succeed on the social web. And those that don’t emphasize helpfulness and relevancy will fail.

How can your company be more helpful and more relevant? What can you say that will give your customers good reasons to connect with you?

#7: Generate Your Content Strategy Over Time

Let’s say your team sat down three months ago and created your content strategy to take you through the rest of 2012. And your analytics and demographic reports from recent weeks all look good. End of story? Not so fast. Your community may be moving and reacting to something that happened yesterday or better yet, tomorrow.

As Rich Brooks writes, “A keyword analysis and social media demographics will only take you so far. You’ll need to evolve your content strategy over time, based on what’s going on in your industry, with your audience and in the world around you.”

Revisit your content strategy frequently and be flexible about what and when you post.

#8: Honesty is Still One of the Best Policies

writes, “Your community members invest a lot of time in your brand. You owe it to them to treat them as equals and to be honest with them.”

Deborah offers three best practices for being transparent with your community:

  • If you’re not sure how to respond to something or don’t know whether you’re even allowed to address it, discuss it with your team and your superiors first.
  • Address criticism and rumor head on without sweeping them under the rug.
  • Respond to questions and inquiries honestly. At times, you may have to reveal information that hasn’t been released to the rest of the world in order to rectify a situation.

deb ngs book

Deborah Ng’s book is a valuable resource for smart community managers!

#9: Ingenuity is Memorable

In  article about creative social media marketing case studies, he shows how seven companies have used their ingenuity to create memorable community experiences.

The eight key lessons we can learn from these businesses are:

  • Take advantage of photos and videos.
  • Showcase your customers.
  • Enable social sharing on all of your content.
  • Google+ will impact search results.
  • YouTube is far more advanced than you may realize.
  • Optimize your content for mobile readers.
  • Give people a reason to engage.
  • Think about starting a LinkedIn group for your industry or niche.


Sharpie was one of the seven companies profiled for creativity in Phil’s post.

#10: Joke in Good Taste

Tips for using humor in your social media activities. As he says, “Humor can be a great way to get people’s attention.” But humor can also be a little tricky.

Jason writes, “The target market must always be considered. Running tests and focus groups to gather feedback is always a great idea. Try to use an online survey to test your attempt at humor against an internal audience before you send it out. Comedy is subjective, so don’t expect to please everyone.”

#11: Kick-Start with Good Content

Getting started on a new platform? Still testing the waters to see whether it’s the right place for your business to be?

One suggestion that many seasoned social media marketers will tell you is to come out of the gate with loads of good content before you start promoting your new presence.

Let’s say your blog is shiny and new. Wait until you have a respectable number of good-quality posts (e.g., 3-5 thoroughly researched and well-written articles) before spreading the word. Take some time to generate momentum.

#12: Leverage Your Networks

Community managers need to know what’s happening on all of their networks. Even if you’re not the Twitter manager, for example, you should have a good idea of the conversations, tweets and hashtags taking place that involve your company and industry. At this point, social platforms work hand-in-hand with one another.

Conversations flow freely from one network to another and in order to be effective, social community managers need to be able to leverage their networks and bounce off one another.

#13: Marketing Isn’t a Bad Word

Community managers often have to work extra-hard to avoid marketing faux pas—being perceived as using social networking platforms exclusively for business marketing purposes. But let’s call a spade a spade. When social media marketing is done right, it’s not a bad word nor out of line. Ultimately, it’s how businesses need to communicate in the 2010s.

When asked, “What should be the ultimate goal of social media participation for businesses? Is it to create awareness, drive traffic to your website, sell product, branding, or something entirely different?”

He answered, “Businesses have different goals they want from each element of marketing. It’s no different for social media, as it is just another marketing tool and medium. Marketing fundamentals still apply. For some, brand awareness is paramount. For others, it’s increased sales.

“Any marketing strategy and the resulting tactics should keep in mind the two key fundamentals: 1) the target audience and 2) the goals. Social media is not a magic bullet and should be used where appropriate just like television, radio or email marketing.”

Remember your target audience and goals, and you’ll be fine!

#14: Never Say Never

Some days the proliferation of social media feels as if it happened overnight. One day many businesses were claiming social media wasn’t the right strategy for them.

In a few short years, businesses of all shapes and sizes have active presences on multiple platforms. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, etc., went from not making sense to being commonplace destinations. Who knows what will come down the pike next? With that in mind, it’ll serve you best to stay open, flexible and go with the flow.

#15: Originality vs. Saying What Everyone Else Says

“A great content marketing strategy is key for social media success. You’ve probably seen people sharing others’ content, sometimes via RSS feeds, pages, retweets/shares, or by direct linking. Those are great strategies to provide useful content to your audience. They can be an adequate stop-gap measure while you build your own content, but it’s very very important in social media to provide original content.”

Vicki recognizes that not everyone feels that they have the time or expertise to create original content and offers these suggestions:

  • Review a product, book, movie, event, research study or website.
  • Interview an influencer.
  • Create a video from a PowerPoint presentation.
  • Be quotable by learning to say meaningful things in short blurbs.
  • Don’t make it harder than it is (e.g., keep blog posts to single ideas, 150-300 words, keep your videos 30 seconds to 3 minutes tops, keep your interview to 15 minutes). Just start. You’ll get better as you go and you’ll be original.

#16: Power to the People—Write On!

OK, so maybe this isn’t what John Lennon meant when he wrote the lyrics to the song, “Power to the People.”

As a social community manager, you walk a fine line—being in charge of the content that your business posts and maintaining a number of presences, responding to and cleaning up inappropriate comments all the while, working your hardest to listen and respond to your community.

At the end of the day, after you’ve handled all of the necessary responsibilities, the company still needs to continue to develop content on an ongoing basis.

Provides tips for stellar social media community management and offers this sound advice regarding content: “Share remarkable, targeted content based on needs/interests of individual communities.

“Without remarkable content, your brand will have nothing valuable to share, and your community members will either dwindle, flock elsewhere, or not even bother to participate in the first place.

“This content should not only be remarkable, but it should also be easily shareable so your community members can expand its reach by sharing it with connections in their networks.”

#17: Qualified and Experienced Decisions

Marc Meyer points out that social media has matured. He writes, “Yes there are still lots of nuances to be learned and still lots of totally unqualified people screwing things up, but that’s in every industry, right?

“The difference between five years ago when I first started and now is that there are more and more qualified people out there who are able to make educated and qualified and experienced decisions on what to do with social media initiatives. And the results speak for themselves.”

Are the most qualified and experienced people involved in the day-to-day operations of your social networking communities? If not, how can you get them involved?

#18: Respect Cultures

Several months ago, National Public Radio (NPR) gave its journalists Guidelines that included social media policies.

Jeff Sonderman wrote about his impressions of the policies and how they can serve as a blueprint for other news organizations.

As community managers, there’s a valuable takeaway message for all of us in this passage from NPR’s social media policy:

“To get the most out of social media we need to understand those (social media) communities. So we respect their cultures and treat those we encounter online with the same courtesy and understanding as anyone we deal with in the offline world. We do not impose ourselves on such sites. We are guests and behave as such.”

npr ethics

Great social media advice from NPR!

#19: Shout-Out and Give Thanks

Lightspan Digital has provided an insightful social media cheat sheet with loads of important daily social media workouts, including this one for Twitter:

“Give thanks—If someone retweets one of your tweets don’t forget to give thanks. Example: thanks for the shout-out @manamical :)

Check out their cheat sheet for more great advice.

social media workouts

Daily workouts for Twitter and Facebook.

#20: Things You Should Know About Your Audience

Jam Moore writes that many businesses have the problem of using social media tools without first doing their homework to understand their potential audience.

She says, “You must plan before you act in social media if you want to have a positive return on your investment. Random acts of marketing (RAMs) and social media (RASMs) will get you nothing but in the red come month-end!”

Pam suggests eight things you should know about your audience to create content that inspires:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What does your product or service do to minimize or mitigate their pain?
  • How can your product or service inspire and help them personally and professionally?
  • How is your product or service positioned?
  • What is your zoom factor? (We’ll discuss more in #26.)
  • What is your competition up to? (We’ll explore further in #24.)
  • What’s your audience up to, both online and offline?

#21: Update Frequently

We touched upon this point briefly in #2 about the need to update and create new content frequently.

If you ask ten people about what the right frequency of updates would be, you’ll likely receive ten different answers. What works for one business may simply not work for another due to a number of considerations such as staffing, type of products/services and a host of other reasons.

Bottom line here is that we all need to find what works best for us to keep the content fresh and the conversations going.

Ask yourself: What does your schedule consist of? Is it working? If not, what could you be doing differently? Have you looked at the frequency of updates your competitors are making?

#22: Verify Information

As social community managers, we often share information that others have published and pass it along to our readers.

It’s important to be careful and discriminating about the information we share; after all, it’s our reputation too that’s at stake. You’ll want to verify social media content.

Patrick Meier offers tips for how to do this by checking out the:

  • Bio on Twitter
  • Number of tweets
  • Number of followers
  • Number following
  • Retweets
  • Location
  • Timing
  • Social authentication
  • Media authentication
  • Engage the source and ask for the source of the report

Patrick states too that speed is often vital and trying to filter and triangulate (looking for multiple reports from unconnected sources) can be helpful.

#23: Wonder Out Loud

In the preceding tip, we talked about the necessity of verifying information. But at times, social media lends itself to wondering out loud. Speculating. Making educated guesses. Asking questions. Harnessing opinions. And, yes, as Dragnet Detective Joe Friday might have said, “Just the facts, ma’am. Nothing but the facts.”

There is a time and a place for making conversation, just as long as you don’t misrepresent it as fact!

#24: E(x)amine How Your Audience Engages With Your Competition

suggests that you can learn much more about your audience by understanding how they engage with and react to your competition.

She poses these questions:

  • How is your audience engaging with your competition?
  • What is your competition doing that you aren’t?
  • What type of response are they receiving online and offline from your target audiences? Is it different than how your audience is engaging with you?
  • Does your competition have a consistent tone, message and brand? If not, how can you enhance yours to zoom faster?
  • Is your competition engaging in a way their audience expects them to? Casual when they’re expecting professional or opposite?
  • Why are they doing such things differently? Do they have a competitive differentiator because of this or do you have the leg-up? Remember, different isn’t always better. You may be on the right track.

What are the weaknesses in how your competition is engaging and leveraging social media that you can use to your advantage?

#25: You vs. Your Customers

says, “Sometimes we overlook the fact that brands and companies have a totally different perception of the role of social media—and how it can help their business—from that of their customers.”

He refers to the infographic of a survey conducted by the IBM that shows the top reasons consumers interact with companies via social sites vs. why businesses think consumers follow them.

Consumers interact for:

  • Discounts
  • Purchases
  • Reviews and product rankings
  • General information
  • Exclusive information
  • Learn about new products
  • Customer service
  • Event participation
  • To feel connected
  • Submit ideas for new products/services
  • To be part of a community

Steve whittles the message down to what he calls the “golden rule”: “The secret to marketing with social media is to always provide value.”

perception gap

From the survey conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value.

#26: Zoom Agents Lead the Way

We touched on this tip  about integrating social media activities, but it’s worth repeating here.

The social zoom agent, as described by Pam Moore, is “someone who takes on the responsibility for the success of becoming a social business. They will own the success of the engagement, content, approach, strategy and integration.”

As a community manager, you may be the sole zoom agent or one of many for your business. In any event, you’ll need to care deeply about your social communities.

Ideally you will feel invigorated and inspired and will have a sense of pride about the value of your work and what you’re able to contribute. Community management is a relatively new field and it’s an accomplishment to be in this role. Go on and lead the way!

Social media

Social media refers to interaction among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.” Furthermore, social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between organizations, communities, and individuals.

Social media differ from traditional/industrial media in many ways, including quality, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy, and permanence. There are many effects that stem from internet usage. According to Nielsen, internet users continue to spend more time with social media sites than any other type of site. At the same time, the total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PC and mobile devices increased by 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012 compared to 88 billion minutes in July 2011. For content contributors, the benefits of participating in social media have gone beyond simply social sharing to building reputation and bringing in career opportunities and monetary income, as discussed in Tang, Gu, and Whinston